My Favorite Three Social/Environmental Books

I typically read between fifty and sixty books a year. That’s a lot of reading between my Kindle and my Audible subscription; if I’m not working, I usually have my Kindle in my hands or my headphones on!

Over the past few years, there have been a couple of social and environmentally-focused books that stand out for me. Here they are in no particular order:

Drawdown – Many of our clients are familiar with Drawdown as it has long been a “new client gift,” but if you don’t have a copy, let us know. Drawdown was edited by environmental activist Paul Hawken, but our Earth Equity client, Katharine Wilkinson was instrumental in making the book come together.

The book documents 100 solutions to drawdown carbon and have a positive impact on climate change. Of course, it includes technologies such as solar and wind, but others that you might not ordinarily think of. One of the biggest impacts according to the book, is empowering women and girls. From family planning to education to readily accessible healthcare, women have a vital role to play if we are to solve our climate crisis.

Paradise Falls by Keith O’Brien – I grew up very close to one of America’s most notorious toxic waste dumps, Love Canal, in Niagara Falls, NY. Between 1942 and 1953, Hooker Chemical, now part of Occidental Petroleum, buried over 21,000 tons of the absolute worst substances known on Earth. This book details the company’s actions, New York State’s inaction, and the social and health implications of our industrial progress.

You meet Lois Gibbs, who, at the time, was just a concerned citizen, but who took on the corporate giant and the ineffective bureaucracy of New York State. She became a champion for her neighbors, and her work eventually led to the creation of the superfund legislation for toxic sites.

Becoming a Dangerous Woman by Pat Mitchell – I’m lucky enough to know the author of this wonderful autobiography. Pat Mitchell was the first woman CEO of PBS. This is her story of grit, determination, and success in a man’s world. She had to deal with gender stereotypes in the broadcast news world while she made her name. She created, produced, and hosted the Emmy award-winning Woman to Woman – the first program produced and hosted by a woman. And, she was able to win over the perennially gruff Ted Turner and become the head of CNN Productions.

My wife, Melissa, read this book first and highly recommended that I read it. Much of this book makes me angry as it highlights the gender obstacles that are just considered normal, but that are changing (glacially) slowly. It’s also an inspiring book about a small-town Georgia girl who ignored societal norms and came out on top.


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